Archaeological Ceramics

 

Case Study: Peruvian, Stirrup Handled Vessel (Mochica [Moche] Phase III 200-400 AD).

(Images courtesy of Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Warrington Borough Council)

The object was broken into 22 sherds. Residues of shellac and red wax presented evidence of previous repair. The majority of the edges of the sherds (the clay body and decoration) were worn and/or chipped to varying degrees. There were two missing areas - one large, one small and small losses of surface decoration to several sherds. The surfaces were also pitted to varying degrees and these areas are ingrained with dirt.

The decoration was first tested to ascertain stability and solubility. As much dirt as possible was firstly removed using a vulcanised rubber and then the surfaces of the sherds were further cleaned using swabs of IMS, followed by swabbing with deionised water.
A 50:50 mix of acetone and IMS was applied to the residues of shellac on the edges of the sherds. Once softened, the adhesive residue was removed mechanically using a scalpel blade. In order to remove the wax, a cotton wool swab of IMS was placed over the wax and held in position with cling film for approximately 15 minutes. The softened wax was then removed mechanically with a scalpel blade.
Broken edges and chips were consolidated with a 10% solution of a conservation grade acrylic resin in acetone and then bonded with a 1:1 combination of the same resin.
Chips and missing areas were filled for structural support only, with Polyfilla and/or plaster of Paris. These were refined with combinations of scalpel blades, glass paper and a sanding. Filled areas were further finished by retouching with artist’s acrylic paints and retouched to a level were they blended with the original ceramic fabric but were easily discerned on close inspection.

Click on an image to zoom in

Case Study: Roman Cinerary Vessel

(Images Courtesy of Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Warrington Borough Council)

The vessel was broken into 72 main fragments plus numerous smaller fragments. One section had previously been repaired; this repair was stable and therefore was not dismantled. The fragments were surface cleaned with a vulcanised rubber.
Broken edges and chips were consolidated with a 10% solution of a conservation grade acrylic resin in acetone and then bonded with a 1:1 combination of the same resin. Chips and missing areas were filled for structural support only, with Polyfilla and/or plaster of Paris. Filled areas were further finished by retouching with artist’s acrylic paints and retouched to a level were they blended with the original ceramic fabric but were easily discerned on close inspection.

Click on an image to zoom in